With Sharp’s Micro-WAVE Drawer, the Gesture’s the Thing
The latest chapter in the Sharp Home Electronics Co. of America (SHCA) appliance story represents a one-two market punch in both cosmetic design and technology. But what’s really unusual about SHCA’s newest product is that it is aiming squarely at the high-touch appliance consumer – with a no-touch microwave product.
The 24-inch 1.2-cubic-foot. 950-watt Model SMD2480CS Micro-WAVE is its third-generation built-in microwave drawer, and it marks another step forward on a unique, market-leading path in this category – and also, the next salvo in Sharp’s drive to solidify and expand its position in the kitchen space.
SHCA President Jim Sanduski and Sharp Electronics Marketing Co. of America (SEMCA) Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Peter Weedfald are in the process of touting to dealers what is an extremely demonstrable feature: the fact that a mere wave of the hand in front of the oven will cause the drawer to glide open, so that greasy fingers need never touch the pristine, edge-to-edge black glass surface to access the microwave’s interior; a nudge closes it.
The gesture-activation feature, called Easy Wave Open, is totally in tune with the voice-activation trend that surfaced all over the consumer technology industry this past year, in that it answers a palpable consumer desire – namely, to be able to initiate an action from a device without having to touch it. And it promises to be a real attention-grabber in showrooms.
A product like this, explained Weedfald, begs appropriate display – and Sharp, he said, is more than ready to provide dealers with the help they need to help it stand out. “In places where this drawer is sold, 99 percent of those dealers don’t want a ‘shelf talker.’ They’re selling expensive kitchens and they want to keep the presentation very tony.
“We hope that every dealer brings this to their storefront in a beautiful, lighted display cabinet to show it off - to start the conversation,” Weedfald said.
Coupled with this singular “wave” feature is a host of other design tweaks that earmark this model as the new flagship of a good-better-best strategy in what is now a five-model microwave drawer lineup.
Some of the premium design elements include a blue LED activity indicator, and a glass control touchpanel (as opposed to a membrane), with a smooth, dampened dropdown action that displays them at an easily accessible 45-degree angle, explained Sanduski. “We’ve also gone to an LED interior light versus incandescent, and added built-in airflow control as standard, engineered into the unit, enabling flush mounting to the cabinet. Another addition is a cosmetic-gray, patterned interior drawer bottom, which, because it’s not flat white, brings the eye to the center of the drawer where the food should be placed.” An optional 30-inch extension kit is being offered to make for a streamlined appearance with other 30-inch appliances. And the Sharp logo has been relocated to inside the control panel, to help customers better match the drawer to the multitude of brands on the market that will share part of the kitchen’s real estate with the appliance.
Added Weedfald, “a good part of these design changes had to do with listening to our customers and dealers and the editorial community on Gen 3 – all these features are from feedback.”